Do You Need a Jack to Change Oil Yourself of Car?

Oil change could be one or all of these. It could be you topping the oil when it’s low. In other cases, you would need to drain or flush out the old lube and replace it with a new one. While the former is quite easy, the latter might require more effort – specifically when draining oil.

Oil is drained underneath your car, so you need enough ground clearance to work. So how do you get such clearance to do this? Do you need a jack to change oil?

do you need a jack to change oil

Do You Need a Jack to Change Oil?

Technically, without raising your car, there is room underneath your vehicle that allows you to take out the drain plug and start draining your oil. However, for some automobiles, the underside is just not big enough, especially for fatty people. So, to raise the vehicle to get access, you need jack or car stands for oil change.

Thus, You don’t necessarily need a jack to change oil, but it can be helpful. Drivers or you should exercise caution and follow the instructions carefully. A jack can elevate the vehicle to access the underside if you are not using a service ramp. Before raising your vehicle, ensure the parking brake is engaged, and wheel chocks are in place for safety. Once elevated, place the car on jack stands to secure it off the ground.

With jack stands, you can lift the car to the level that suits you, giving you enough room to work. Moreover, a jack makes it more accessible, even if you can fit in. Otherwise, you’re going for an alternative like ramps.

Some car owners use ramps, especially when their work floor isn’t smooth. And chances are the stands may start sinking into the ground –you don’t want to be under your car at this point. To others, even on a flat surface, it’s better to place something flat under the stands to ensure they are stable.

Remember, routine maintenance jobs like oil changes are vital for your vehicle’s health. If you’re unsure, professional services are recommended for safety and quality.

How to Jack Up a Car

In cases where you can’t fit under your car, you may need a car jack to raise the vehicle to gain access to the underside of your vehicle. Therefore, you should raise the stand and ensure they are stable. You don’t want a stand leaving its position and a vehicle falling on you. So here is an easy way to jack up your car before an engine oil change.


  • Car jacks
  • Car stands
  • Wheel chocks
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Torchlight (optional)


  • Park the car on a leveled paved ground and engage the emergency brake.
  • Next is to wedge the wheel chocks under the tires that will be in contact with the ground.
  • To raise your car, position the car jacks under the car chassis at an appropriate lift point.
  • Pump the jack until it touches the lift point on the frame.
  • Pump until the car is an inch or two higher than the height of the jack stands.
  • Now place the jack stands at the appropriate lift points.
  • Slowly lower the automobile the rest on your jack stands.
  • With all jack stands in place, slightly push the car to ensure the car is safe for you to go under it.

Note: while Jack stands are built to hold the weight of your car, ensure the one you’re using is rated for your specific vehicle.

How to Change Oil in a Car

Changing oil in car, while simple, may look challenging without the proper knowledge. So here is a way to change engine oil comfortably and inexpensively. However, if you must do it yourself, you need a DIY oil change kit. Remember before changing oil you need to cool down your vehicle.

So what do you need for an oil change?

Here are some oil change tools needed for an oil change.

  • Car jack and jack stands
  • Gloves
  • Wrench
  • Torchlight
  • Clean cloth
  • New oil filter
  • Recommended manufacturer oil


  • Jack up the car. Ensure you raise the car enough to give you enough room to work under it. Check to see if there is an under tray. Most modern vehicles are fitted with an under tray to protect important car components under your car and also improve aerodynamics. If there is, be sure to unscrew the bolts and remove the under tray to gain access to the oil drain plug location and oil filter.
  • Place an oil drain pan under the drain plug to ensure the oil doesn’t litter the ground. Then remove the drain plug using the proper wrench counterclockwise. Hold on to the plug as you remove it. The oil should start pouring out as you detach it from the oil pan. Wait until the flow slows down or stops
  • Remove the old oil filter. Before replacing it with a new filter, check that the old gasket is removed. Next, replace the drain plug; tighten it until it goes in. However, do not over-tighten it so you don’t damage the drain plug and oil pan; most manufacturers have a spec; try following it. Also, some vehicle utilizes a washer behind the drain plug that might need replacement. Replace the washer if it’s bad.
  • Replace the oil filter. Before replacing oil filter, coat the gasket on the filter with some oil as this helps prevent leaks. And like the drain plug, be careful not to over-tighten it.
  • Don’t forget to reinstall the under tray if you had removed it.
  • Open the hood of your car, take off that oil cap, and pour in the new oil using a funnel. Fill according to the manufacturer’s recommended volume.
  • Wait for a few minutes so the oil can settle into the oil pan. Then check to see if your oil is at the appropriate level using your dipstick. To check the oil level, remove the dipstick, wipe clean with a cloth, reinsert and pull out. The oil level should be at the maximum mark.
  • Start your car, leave it idle and let it warm, then check for leaks. After that, recheck the oil level.
oil changing

How Much Oil to Put in Car?

How much oil to put in a car typically depends on what your car needs? And this depends on your engine. Most engines usually take between 5 to 6 quarts, while some small 4 cylinder engines can take up to four.

In contrast, cars with bigger engines can take up to 8 or 9 quarts. This means there is no universal amount for engine oil; car engines come in different sizes. So consult your owner’s manual to know how much oil your car needs before going for engine oil replacement.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Oil?

If you leave the oil in an engine for too long, it will become extremely thick and gritty. Any oil in this state will find it difficult to reach engine parts for cooling and lubrication. This invariably causes starvation of engine parts like the bearings, camshaft, crankshaft, etc. Invariably causing overheating, reducing horsepower and metal-on-metal contact. 

After some time, these components will wear out and eventually result in complete engine damage. In addition, the entire engine and parts are expensive, something you wouldn’t want to happen. Therefore, doing an oil change as of when due could save you so much money.

Can You Change Oil With One Jack?

It is unsafe to do an engine oil change with one jack as the car will not be balanced enough. Use two jack stands for oil change instead, and only go under your car to change oil when you’re sure the SUV is secured on the stands.

Important safety tips: use two jack stands if you’re lifting only one end of the car and four jack stands if you’re lifting the entire car.  If you notice the ground is soft, place a thick flat wood under the jack to avoid sinking. And do not rest on the car or engine bay when the car is suspended in the air.


Do you need a jack to change oil? If you can fit into your car’s underside, you may not need jack stands for oil change. Some cars have enough room for you to do that. However, using a jack makes it much easier to gain access. And if you’re the big guy, then utilizing a jack is a must if you want enough room under your car.

Most importantly, ensure your vehicle is adequately secured before going under; you don’t want the car falling on you. Lastly, if you’re working on a rough surface, ensure you place flat thick wood under the stands to prevent sinking. Even paved surfaces need this flat wood under the stands for stability.


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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